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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

All Tuolumne County Schools and TCSOS buildings will be closed on Monday, January 16, 2023, in observance of the holiday.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, in the United States, is a holiday (third Monday in January) honoring the achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr. A Baptist minister who advocated the use of nonviolent means to end racial segregation, he first came to national prominence during a bus boycott by African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. He founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 and led the 1963 March on Washington. The most influential African American civil rights leader during the 1960s, he was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and employment, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Almost immediately after King’s death, there were calls for a national holiday in his honor. Beginning in 1970, a number of states and cities made his birthday, January 15, a holiday. Although legislation for a federal holiday was introduced in Congress as early as 1968 on racial and political grounds, there was sufficient opposition to block its passage. In 1983 legislation making the third Monday in January a federal holiday was finally passed, and the first observance nationwide was in 1986. The day is usually celebrated with marches, parades, and speeches by civil rights and political leaders.


Discussion Questions:

  • What was the official name of the event on August 28th, 1963? What does this title tell us about its focus?
  • What organizations were involved in the March on Washington? What does this tell us about the event?
  • How does Martin Luther King, Jr. describe his writing process?
  • What are the major issues of this case? In other words, what is Martin Luther King, Jr. disputing?
  • How does Martin Luther King, Jr. describe his earlier speech on June 23rd in Detroit?
  • How does Martin Luther King, Jr. compare and contrast the two “I have a dream…” speeches? What are the major similarities and differences?

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Below is an article summary from Britannica. For the full article, see Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., (born Jan. 15, 1929, Atlanta, Ga., U.S.—died April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tenn.), U.S. civil rights leader.

The son and grandson of Baptist preachers, King became an adherent of nonviolence while in college. Ordained a Baptist minister himself in 1954, he became pastor of a church in Montgomery, Ala.; the following year he received a doctorate from Boston University. He was selected to head the Montgomery Improvement Association, whose boycott efforts eventually ended the city’s policies of racial segregation on public transportation.

In 1957 King formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and began lecturing nationwide, urging active nonviolence to achieve civil rights for Black Americans. In 1960 he returned to Atlanta to become copastor with his father of Ebenezer Baptist Church. He was arrested and jailed for protesting segregation at a lunch counter; the case drew national attention, and presidential candidate John F. Kennedy interceded to obtain his release.

In 1963 King helped organize the March on Washington, an assembly of more than 200,000 people at which he made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The march influenced the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and King was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize for Peace.

In 1965 he was criticized from within the civil rights movement for yielding to state troopers at a march in Selma, Ala., and for failing in the effort to change Chicago’s housing segregation policies. Thereafter he broadened his advocacy, addressing the plight of the poor of all races and opposing the Vietnam War. In 1968 he went to Memphis, Tenn., to support a strike by sanitation workers; there on April 4, he was assassinated by James Earl Ray.

History Kids – Martin Luther King, Jr.